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Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

A great book! I am already looking forward to whatever the next book in The Brothers Grime series is! I hope it is soon!
Grime and PunishmentGrime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson’s way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack’s people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don’t solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg’s suicide.

Ryan Halloran’s cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick’s suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.

Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick’s lookalike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers. Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they’ve both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime And Punishment

So what did I think?

I really enjoyed this book and the wonderful characters!

The first 20% of this book had me a bit confused, introducing characters at a rapid rate and delving into the world of crime scene clean up. But as Jack’s company’s logo says “Life is not a fairytale.” I guess I was a little surprised at the depth of information provided (not for the squeamish but if you can stand watching CSI you should be ok!).

By this point of the book I would also expect to have a clear understanding of the two main characters and started to see them interacting. However at this point, Jack is having casual hook-ups with his in-the-closet cop friend Dave and Ryan isn’t very much in the picture.

Jack is part-owner of the clean-up company and the plot revolves around him gaining closure by personally cleaning up the scene of his ex-boyfriend’s suicide. The ex happens to be Ryan’s cousin and the deed occurred in Ryan’s home. Ryan also wants closure by assisting in the cleanup. I must say this all seemed a bit odd but anyway, it got Jack and Ryan together.

Jack has been severely hurt in the past, both emotionally and physically. He still bears scars and has never allowed himself to trust and have a proper relationship. Ryan seems to attract people who need help, such as his cousin Nick. They both need to overcome their issues if they are to have their happy ending.

Jack’s friends are concerned about the relationship, worried that Jack’s attraction to Ryan is based on his likeness to Nick. Luckily this is not a problem for Jack who clearly sees Ryan as his own man. “Ryan was so like Nick. Yet…they were as individual as snowflakes.”. He just needs to convince Ryan of this. “He was going to have to prove it was Ryan’s heart, and not his face, that mattered.”
[ There is a lovely explanation from Jack to Ryan, acknowledging that he does have a physical type and Ryan fits the bill, just like Nick did. This seems so logical. (hide spoiler)]

This book had wonderful characters including a cute cat, and although filled with gory crime scenes, contained lots of humour. The only downsides were minor – I didn’t understand what attracted Ryan to Jack, it was maybe a bit too insta-love and I wanted to know more about Dave’s background to understand him better.

4 Stars
[“….and today’s episode will be the one where the openly gay cousin that got disowned but still inherited all the family’s old money comes to his drug-addict cousin’s suicide funeral with the boy the dead cousin nearly got arrested for assaulting as he plus one.”
(hide spoiler)]

To find out more about Z.A. Maxfield and her books, visit her website.

Buy Grime and Punishment on Amazon

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Chicken Ranch by Amanda Young

The Chicken Ranch is a brothel and the stories in the series each feature a Chicken Ranch worker finding love. In the first book, Hunger, Declan meets Killian who is  a one-time client at the Chicken Ranch. In Recession, Garrett is working at the Chicken Ranch when is his ex-boyfriend returns to town.

4 Stars

Hunger (Chicken Ranch, #1)Hunger by Amanda Young

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Disowned and cast out of his home, eighteen year old Declan Mayo turns to the only thing he can think of to help him get back on his feet. Working at the Chicken Ranch, a rural brothel that caters to women and gay men, seems like the perfect solution. He isn’t about to let a lack of sexual experience stop him from taking what he sees as a way off the streets.

Falling in love with one of his clients wasn’t in the game plan, but Declan can’t seem to help himself. Killian Hamilton is sweet and kind, with a stutter Declan can’t help but find adorable. Surely, if anyone could overlook Declan’s choice of employment, it would be a kindhearted man like Killian.

But Declan didn’t figure on Killian’s connection to one of the brothel’s regular clients, and now his love life’s about to blow up in his face.

So what did I think?

Overall I enjoyed this story.

Declan is down on his luck and desperate times call for desperate measures. Not sure of where his next meal is coming from and without a home, he takes a job at the Chicken Ranch working as a prostitute. “Pride didn’t make him any less homeless or fill the empty ache of a stomach that had gone too long without sustenance.”

Killian is an accountant with a steady job and home. But he his lacking something in his life and a one-off, spur of the moment visit leads him to Declan.

I like the way both characters are portrayed, particularly Declan. I felt very sympathetic towards his situation.

Declan is proud and doesn’t accept his situation. He looks for ways to give himself the life he desires including taking classes to gain qualifications. But he struggles to come to terms with the life he has made at the Chicken Ranch and doesn’t feel worthy of Killian. He is waiting for something bad to happen. “If his own father couldn’t love him, what hope did he have of finding someone who could?”

When things don’t go smoothly, Declan almost believes this is what he deserves. “The bad thing was, he wasn’t even sure he had a right to be mad. After all, he was a whore.”

It was a big plus that even though Declan works at the Chicken Ranch, this book didn’t spend too much time focusing on happenings at the brothel. It was more focused on the development of the romantic relationship between the two men.

I loved the slow and steady approach Killian took to their physical relationship and how much Declan appreciated sex with Killian. Even though he worked in the sex trade, simple kisses with Killian had Declan waiting in anticipation. “Thankfully, he found the prospect of being with Killian completely different than work. The act was the same, but the purpose behind it was not.” and “This wasn’t just about sex. The actions were similar, but the level of intimacy was as diverse as night from day.”

My only actual dislike with this story was the use of a couple of words which I personally find a bit of a turn-off: “….Grave’s tool.” “Killian’s meat.”

 

Recession (Chicken Ranch #2)Recession by Amanda Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Garrett has fallen on tough times. Once a construction worker, he now depends on the desires of others to feed his little brother and keep a roof over their heads. As one of the many rent boys at Chicken Ranch, Garrett lives in constant fear, torn between making enough money to survive and getting busted for doing something illegal and immoral to pay the bills.

Miller is a workaholic with a chip on his shoulder. It isn’t until his beloved Grandma passes away that Miller dares to temporarily return home to the town he despises. Once there, he faces a surprise inheritance that causes more problems than solutions and the man he left behind to pursue his dreams.

Their reunion comes with an abundance of complications and old feelings. Bitterness and anger swiftly turn into desire and a rekindled love that threatens more than their hearts. Things take a turn for the worst when Miller provokes a threat to Garrett’s custody of his little brother. Having already lost Garrett to familial obligations once, Miller fears they’re doomed to repeat the past, only this time Garrett will be the one who’ll walk away.

So what did I think?

This sequel is a great continuation of the Chicken Ranch series, focused on entirely new characters.

For six years, since the death of his mother, Garrett has been raising his younger brother Vaughn, who is now 16 years old. Garrett is struggling to build the best life possible for Vaughn. He wants him to go to college and hopefully gain a football scholarship. When he loses his job and prospects don’t look good, he turns to the Chicken Ranch and a job he wouldn’t usually consider. He also continues to do many other jobs – cutting and selling wood and handyman work – on the side to earn extra money. He puts himself last.

Garrett had high dreams for himself when he was younger. He was in love with Miller, his wealthier friend. He wanted to go to college and build a good life, to become what he viewed as a better person. “Maybe if his good fortune held out, he could make something of himself in college before Miller had the chance to realize he’d been slumming all these years with someone so far beneath him.”

Miller had left Garrett when he was 18. Partly forced away after his father discovered he was gay. But Miller regrets losing Garrett. Although he has a successful career and money, he is not happy with his life and meeting Garrett again lets him see this. “Temporary hook-ups and good-time boyfriends had come and gone, barely more than placeholders while he strived for something real in his life, something that mattered. A relationship like the one he’d foolishly walked away from when he was young and dumb.”

Both men are reluctant to voice their feelings and communication is not a strong point. They are unsure as to what the other is looking for from their relationship and things aren’t made any easier by the obstacles thrown their way, particularly the threat of Garrett losing custody of his brother.

As with the first book, I really enjoyed the way the story focused on the relationship of the two men and not so much the activities within the brothel. It was interesting to see how Garrett’s working in the brothel was handled by Miller and by Garrett himself, once they had started seeing each other again.

The family focus and the inclusion of Vaughn in the story was also a nice addition and well handled. There was some drama but it was realistic and not over-sensationalized.

And there was some moments for the true romantics…..
[“They aren’t the platinum and diamonds you deserve. Just plain gold bands. But I promise the sentiment behind them is stronger and will last longer than any precious metal. I’ve loved you since we were teenagers, and I can’t imagine a day when that will ever change. I don’t want to try. If you’ll let me, I’d like to spend the rest of my life proving it.”
(hide spoiler)]

For more information on Amanda Young and her other books, visit her website.

These books were provided by the author in return for an honest review.

Buy Hunger at Amazon

Buy Recession at Amazon

View all my reviews